Our Blog Posts will help you reach your full potential in becoming a confident conversationalist. New topics each week.
Sometimes it’s not what you say that makes the most impact, it’s what you do.
Take San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler for example. His frustration over the school shooting in Texas last week and the number of shootings in the United States has led him to skip the National Anthem and stay in the clubhouse when it’s played before baseball games. You can read about how other managers around baseball are responding here.
It’s easy to “stick to sports” when talking about weekly conversation starters that could be helpful in small talk. There’s a reason I typically avoid highlighting sports topics that are controversial or emotionally charged – that’s not usually a productive approach to small talk.
But this week I want remind you that sports is more than stats and scores because games are played by human beings with feelings.
You don’t have to agree with Kapler’s response. You don’t have to watch baseball...
How’s this for a conversation starter: “Can I tell you something that will make your day?”
A colleague actually used that to start a conversation with me a couple weeks ago. That’s a heck of lead-in! If you’re ever in a position to say that, I would highly recommend it. It’s one example of a thoughtful and intentional start to small talk, but you can be intentional with all kinds of conversation starters when you plan for small talk.
Don’t let small talk catch you off guard this week. You know there will be opportunities. Prepare ahead of time and consider using these sports topics as your conversation starters this week.
The NFL Draft dominated headlines during the weekend. Most of what you heard was stats driven. “Experts” using athletes’ career numbers to project how they’ll fit in and impact their new teams.
As someone who spent part of the weekend covering the draft from Seahawks headquarters, it’s always the communication skills that stand out to me. Here’s what happens in the media room after a selection is made: we all look at the pre-draft write ups and career stats, then the player calls in and we get 10-15 minutes to ask questions.
It’s amazing how that first impression can lead to loving a selection or having doubts as to if they’ll be successful in Seattle.
In theory their college careers should be enough to convince the scouts, front office, media and everyone else they’ll be successful. But that’s not the way it works. The way they show up in a conversation is critical to the impression they make and how people...
NBA forward Kevin Durant admitted to “thinking too much” during Brooklyn’s playoff series against Boston. The Seattle Kraken players, a team I cover, have recently lamented not playing a simple game. And just about every baseball player facing a critical moment in the batter’s box will talk about the importance of not trying to do too much with a pitch.
These are all ways of saying, “Don’t overthink it.”
I’m going to encourage you to follow that advice this week in small talk. Don’t overthink it. Start the conversation. Trust that you can navigate whatever comes next and remember you can keep it short and to the point. Just 30-seconds will do. Heck, if you use the sentences listed here you’ll be halfway through the 30-second interaction.
I love a good list. I love knowing that if I follow a series of steps I’ll get the outcome I want. It doesn’t matter if it’s my daily to-do list, a recipe or workout plan.
Here’s what I found myself contemplating recently about those lists – I usually follow them in chronological order, but they almost always start by looking at the end result. I start by looking at what I want to achieve and then create the list that produces the outcome.
I would encourage you to look at small talk the same way. Identify your end result first and then determine the topics, create the questions and engage in the conversations that get to your desired outcome.
When you approach small talk that way, sports topics and sports conversations become very valuable in the connections you can make, sports-adject topics you can discuss and follow up opportunities you can plan. Here are a few topics you can use this week to get the ball rolling.
This week marks the start of the Major League Baseball season. Yes, it’s a week late due to their lockout, but each team will still play a full 162-game schedule. Trust me, I know that’s a lot of games. I work the majority of those games as part of the Seattle Mariners television broadcast.
Here’s why I bring this up, the start of baseball season is your chance to map out and plan follow up conversations with baseball-loving colleagues. You’ll know they love (or at least, enjoy) baseball if you hear them talking about Opening Day this week. Ask a few questions and then make notes in your calendar to follow up at various time during the season. You don’t have to talk baseball every day, or even every week, but it’s an easy way to connect with fans who are already talking about it.
If baseball isn’t your thing here are a list of other sports topics you can use in small talk this week.
I highlighted and starred a comment from a Seahawks player during a press conference last week specifically for this weekly reminder. The cornerback was asked what led to his jump in production last season and he said once he developed a familiarity with his teammates he was able to hit his stride. He could anticipate what the guys around him were going to do. He was communicating at a higher level. In the end, he was rewarded with a new contract.
The way you work with others affects your productivity and success. You can’t do it alone. Actually, let me rephrase.. you can do it alone, but you won’t be as successful as the person who gets along well with their team.
Small talk is the starting point for getting along with your team. You can use lots of different topics, but I always lean toward sports because of its popularity and the follow up opportunities it creates. Here are a few sports headlines making news that can work in small talk this week.
For a second straight week I have a confession to make - I never did get around to filling out my NCAA Tournament bracket. It's a little embarrassing since I work in sports, but I'm also a real person with a lot on my plate.
I will still talk about hoops and the NCAA Tournament because it's what sports fans are talking about. I might not go into many details and I definitely spend more time asking questions and listening, but I don't opt out of the conversation altogether. There are ways to alter your sports conversations based on your sports knowledge base.
Here are a few talking points to boost your confidence when talking sports this week.